Thursday, June 21, 2018
Education

District takes 'turnaround' action at nine struggling schools in Pinellas

Pinellas County superintendent Mike Grego has told nine schools that they did not make enough progress this year, demoting two principals and telling teachers they may have to reapply for their jobs.

In a letter to the schools, Grego said Pinellas was required by federal and state law to implement one of five severe "turnaround" options — even though their status as turnaround schools won't be officially determined until after FCAT testing is over and school grades come out this summer.

Grego also warned five schools entering their second year of the turnaround process that they'll continue to see personnel changes. On Tuesday, the board approved his transfer of Maximo's principal to Lake St. George Elementary.

The nine new turnaround schools identified by Grego are Belleair, Campbell Park, Dunedin, Pinellas Park, Bear Creek, High Point and Ponce de Leon elementaries, and Largo and Tyrone middle schools.

"I commend your dedication to high need students and I recognize that you are among the hardest working employees in the district," Grego wrote. "Unfortunately, your school has not shown sufficient progress over the past few years, and, as a result, the district is required by federal and state law to implement one of five 'turnaround option plans' for the 2014-15 school year."

Grego told teachers that some may need to reapply for their jobs, while others may be transferred to a different school.

In an interview, Grego said he was taking preemptive action based on the district's own tests indicating these schools' letter grades are not set to improve.

"We don't have to wait for a letter grade," Grego said, adding that his staff has looked at math and language arts tests, school climate measures and behavior issues in the schools.

The state requires districts to submit turnaround plans by April with the understanding that, should the FCAT scores not improve, the plan would spring into action. Grego said he did not want to wait and have to implement the plan in a compressed time frame after the grades are released this summer.

Even if the schools do improve their grades, the district plans to move forward with the plans.

Dunedin Elementary principal Kathleen Brickley is being demoted to assistant principal at Brooker Creek Elementary. Five years ago, Dunedin was a B school, but most recently earned an F.

Thea Saccasyn, the principal of Ponce de Leon, is being moved to the assistant principal post at Tarpon Springs Middle. Ponce de Leon, an A school five years ago, has earned two consecutive D grades.

"We wanted to place individuals at the places they were last successful," said Grego, referring to the assistant principal level. "It doesn't mean they're not going to be principals again."

Randi Latzke, the principal at Maximo, is moving to Lake St. George Elementary as of June 9. Latzke kept her job last year even as Grego replaced principals at three of the other four turnaround schools.

"We wanted to try a different leadership style there," Grego said. He is bringing in Lakisha Falana, the current principal of Tarpon Springs Elementary, a C school.

All in all, seven principals are being shuffled around the district. Ozona Elementary, an A school for more than a decade, is losing Kerry Apuzzo to Dunedin Elementary. Lake St. George, also an A school, is saying goodbye to Paula Texel as she takes on Ponce de Leon Elementary.

"I think we have schools with high numbers of struggling students and it's very challenging," said long-serving School Board member Linda Lerner. "I think it's going to take a little time to show real progress."

Contact Lisa Gartner at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter @lisagartner.

Comments
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA — Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18